Conference rooms represent a unique space in the modern office. The fact that it is a shared space means that you have to be cognizant of other people’s schedules and needs. In addition, there are certain rules for behavior that should be followed while you are in a conference. Fortunately, we have created a comprehensive guide to help you safely navigate proper conference room etiquette when it comes sharing a public space and how to behave during a conference.
1. Don’t Leave a Mess
As a common courtesy to the next person who will be using the conference room, be sure to leave the space cleaner than when you found it. Just imagine walking into the conference room to start a meeting with an important client only to find the table strewn with empty coffee cups and piles of paper. You wouldn’t want to be caught in that position, so be sure not to put your co-workers in the same spot. Make sure the room is tidy and presentable before you leave.
2. Stick to the Schedule
Meetings have a tendency to go longer than scheduled, but it is up to you to keep things moving and make sure that you are out of the room on time. If you are part of a busy office, chances are that the conference rooms are booked back to back throughout the day. If you go five minutes over your scheduled time, you can end up causing a domino effect that throws everyone off schedule.
3. Make Any Cancellations as Early as Possible
The same rule applies to scheduling a conference room or canceling a booking: try to do it as early as possible. Don’t wait to the last minute to put in a request if you know you will be needing the room on a certain date. This will help ensure that you get the slot you want and help others in the office make adjustments to their schedule if necessary.
4. Be Thoughtful and Accommodating
You might take a look at the schedule and see that the largest conference table, with all the bells and whistles is open, but you might not need all that room for your meeting of ten people. Instead of nabbing up the fancy conference room, just because you can, see what other options are available. This might allow someone with a last minute booking to get the space they need. On that same note, if you are able to switch times with a co-worker who needs to make a change, try and be accommodating as possible. You may find that they are willing to return the favor down the road when you need some assistance.
5. Don’t Assume that an Empty Room is up for Grabs
If you happen to notice that a room is open, don’t assume that it is free for you to use. Whoever has the room booked may just be running late and you run the risk of having any awkward encounter that makes both of you look unprofessional. Always check the schedule or contact the individual in charge of scheduling before entering a conference room.
How to Behave during a Conference Meeting
In addition to the rules surrounding how to handle shared space, there are also some tips to keep in mind while in a meeting. Following these recommendations can help you make a good impression on your co-workers, bosses and clients.
6. Limit Your Food and Drinks
As a general rule, it is perfectly acceptable to bring coffee, tea and water to a meeting and sip on your drink during the meeting. Anything beyond these common beverages can cause a distraction. Just imagine being the only person eating a hamburger at a large conference table that holds thirty people.
7. Put Your Phone Away
While your phone might be an important business tool that you use throughout the day, it needs to be out of sight during conferences. You don’t want to be distracted or even appear to be distracted while others are speaking. Be sure to turn the sound off put it in your pocket or bag. If you absolutely must take a call or answer a text, try and leave the room as quietly as possible.
8. Ask Questions Throughout the Meeting
The last thing you want to do is save all your questions till the end and then throw out a barrage of ideas right when everyone thinks they are about to leave. This is a surefire way to make quick enemies of your co-workers and be the guy who caused the meeting to run over. If you have questions, be sure to raise them at an appropriate time and stay on topic.
9. Don’t Get Too Comfortable
If you are lucky enough to have some plush conference chairs, be careful not to get too comfortable during your meeting. Avoid leaning back in the chair or lowering the height so that you look like a little kid. Try sitting up straight towards the front edge of the seat so that you look alert and engaged in the conversation and be sure that you are on eye level with the rest of the people at the table.
10. Be on Time
This really should go without saying, but it is the absolute most important piece of etiquette to follow. Whether you are in charge of the meeting or an attendee, be on time and ready to participate. Being on time both demonstrates a certain level of professionalism and shows others that you respect their time.
In essence, good office etiquette comes down to showing respect and compassion for your colleagues. Sharing any space can cause tension and frustration, but if you are aware of how your actions affect others, then you can easily avoid any conflicts. The same goes for behavior in the conference room. Remember to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Following these simple tips can go a long way to creating a more pleasant work environment and winning over your colleagues.